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posted by martyb on Sunday January 09, @04:44AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the green-with-envy dept.

https://medium.com/@_sdc/how-apple-taught-its-users-to-hate-android-through-subtle-design-cues-518cd7eda80

If you use an iPhone, you might have noticed that SMS conversations (green-bubbles) are harder to read than iMessage conversations (blue bubbles). That's not by accident — in fact, green bubbles weren't always so difficult to read.

You've probably heard of the green and blue text message bubble colors inside the iOS Messages app. On an iPhone, normal SMS text messages are colored green, while iMessage (Apple's iPhone-exclusive chat platform) conversations are colored blue. Many iPhone users shun the "green bubble" due to the fewer features provided by SMS. If you own an iPhone, you may feel the same frustration when trying to read a green-bubble chat, as they often feel harder to read than blue-bubble chats. That's no accident.

To begin, we have to take a trip back to 2011. As you may know, iMessage, along with the signature blue bubble, didn't exist until the release of iOS 5. Before iMessage was introduced, every message in the Messages app was green, as the only messaging supported at the time was SMS. Once they added iMessage to the Messages application on iOS, the blue bubbles came along with it to help differentiate between iMessage and SMS. Given that the Messages app has stuck with the same green bubble/blue bubble differentiation, it may sound like the hatred towards SMS isn't related to the color at all. However, along the way from iOS 5 to now, a tiny design change opened a user-experience chasm between SMS conversations and iMessage ones. This isn't a story about about the green or blue colors themselves — rather, it's a story about contrast, and its astonishing impact on our perceptions.


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @05:25AM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @05:25AM (#1211196)

    Never thought about it. My side of a text is white on green. The other person's is black on dark grey. Yet another reason to not get a smart phone, and not play their game. Don't need multi-party chat. Don't want it. Get off my lawn, my pleasant green bubble of grass, which is mine. Get off it.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Sunday January 09, @06:54AM (1 child)

      by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Sunday January 09, @06:54AM (#1211207)

      My side of a text is white on green. The other person's is black on dark grey. Yet another reason to not get a smart phone

      Either that or it's a good reason to get tested for color blindness.

      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @10:20PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @10:20PM (#1211328)

        LOL, I was tested for that as a kid and don't have it. I'm pretty damned sure my flip-phone is white on green for my text, and it isn't hard to read at all. People are just being silly. I meant to say "black on grey" though, dark grey would be bad. I don't think my flip can customize those colors, but I don't care. My sister has an iPhone. We've texted. She knows I don't care about it, or the Kardashians and she loves me anyway. The real point, is that if your "friends" are judging you by the kind of phone you use, maybe don't dump them right away; but think about the kind of people you want to be around and get moving in that direction.

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by driverless on Sunday January 09, @10:48AM (1 child)

      by driverless (4770) on Sunday January 09, @10:48AM (#1211225)

      All I can say is, never attribute to malice what is adequately explained by a bunch of hipsters pointlessly wanking around with the UI because there's nothing else they know how to do.

      It's not any conspiracy by Apple at all, if it was that then they'd have retained the easy-to-read high-contrast iOS 5 scheme for iMessage and let the hipsters keep endlessly wanking around with the SMS one, producing a "UI refresh" with each new release, all equally shitty, just like Microsoft and Mozilla have been doing for years.

      • (Score: 4, Informative) by corey on Sunday January 09, @10:34PM

        by corey (2202) Subscriber Badge on Sunday January 09, @10:34PM (#1211333)

        Agree.

        I’m no Apple fan, but I do have an iPhone. I just checked, my incoming messages are the same colour whether in SMS or iMessage. I have my system theme as dark so either way it’s white text on dark grey bg. The blue/green sent messages are the same to read, I don’t see one as being harder to read than the other. It must be so subtle than even when I focus on it and try, I don’t see the green to be harder to read, and make me not want an Android phone.

        I call bs, another clickbait FUD article.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by SomeGuy on Sunday January 09, @05:28AM (2 children)

    by SomeGuy (5632) on Sunday January 09, @05:28AM (#1211197)

    You've probably heard of the green and blue text message bubble colors inside the iOS Messages app.

    I haven't. But then again, I'm not a teenage girl.

    So people are just now starting to figure out how Apple/cell phone companies are manipulating people. Good for these people, but there is much more.

    Should I even ask how apple tries to make people feel about e-mail? Something that is not only available on all smartphones, but can be used on almost any kind of networked computing device - so clearly it must be eliminated.

    • (Score: 4, Touché) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Sunday January 09, @07:06AM (1 child)

      by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Sunday January 09, @07:06AM (#1211209)

      Because you think emails are a safe way to avoid being manipulated?

      Tell you what: my name is Adewale Johnson. I'm a former Nigerian government minister and I have a business proposition for you. Interested?

      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @03:01PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @03:01PM (#1211248)

        Never fallen for a scam email, text, or phone call. Then again, I'm cynical by nature. And when some scammer calls to tell me a warrant has been issued for my arrest I put them on speakerphone and let everyone else in on the fun of "how long can I abuse this piece of shit before they hang up?"

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @05:31AM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @05:31AM (#1211199)

    As a professional UI designer, both digital and tangible product, I can confirm I never would have let the green/white combo pass testing. Not only does it (as TFA says) violate Apple's own minimum contrast ratios, it's also subjectively fugly.

    Less confident in the author's claim that it's malice, vs. convenient incompetence.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @05:59AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @05:59AM (#1211204)

      You missed the Wall Street Journal article about it:

      https://appleinsider.com/articles/22/01/08/green-texts-in-imessages-nudges-teens-to-use-iphones [appleinsider.com]
      https://archive.fo/uw5zN [archive.fo]

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @09:43AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @09:43AM (#1211222)

      This article is full of shit. Both messages from other iphones and from android users are easy to read - make your font bigger , problem solved.

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @05:49PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @05:49PM (#1211273)
      Seriously? Take another look at Android's UI. It was Android that made me hate Android before I ever switched to iPhone. Apple isn't perfect, but Google products are a mess.
    • (Score: 3, Funny) by FatPhil on Sunday January 09, @11:43PM

      by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Sunday January 09, @11:43PM (#1211344) Homepage
      > Not only does it (as TFA says) violate Apple's own minimum contrast ratios

      Apple's webpage documenting their minimum contrast ratios violates their minimum contrast ratios.

      Expecting anything sensible from Apple nowadays is a hobby for fools.
      --
      I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @05:36AM (8 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @05:36AM (#1211200)

    And that's why customizability matters. The thing that cannot be configured by the user will be exploited against the user. It can be seen in Windows, where power-hungry 3D card is a must-go now, even for displaying the flat user interface. It can be seen in Mac too, however, looking at their history this is what you usually get with Macs. The bad thing is that even in Linux / Open Source world, decades of ergonomics research went forgotten because GUIs must look "appealing" while they are counterproductive. Or are for touch screens.
    I noticed that when I bought a new computer. Tried with the newest KDE, and their new file manager considered that it will be beautiful to display all folders full of images with live-generated thumbnails. Even this folder with >60K PNGs with microphotography results, 10MB each.
    So after I killed the file manager as it used up a whole RAM, swap and temporary space for thumbnails, I returned to KDE3 fork.
    The lack of customizability is the "f..k you" to the user. My dumbphone with simple 16-colour screen allows to change color themes. There is literally no reason to remove it except preparation to implement some "dark patterns".

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Azuma Hazuki on Sunday January 09, @08:49AM (2 children)

      by Azuma Hazuki (5086) Subscriber Badge on Sunday January 09, @08:49AM (#1211218) Journal

      KDE is known for customizability though...? So just turn that feature off.

      --
      I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
      • (Score: 0, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @09:51AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @09:51AM (#1211223)

        Wrong. Really wrong. It USED to be known for its customizability. It's now the Krap Desktop Environment.

        I hate OSX, but my computer will probably be a mac. And my current laptop will be dual boot - FreeBSD and Windows XP.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @06:21PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @06:21PM (#1211279)

        Just a quick information: KDE was quite customizable up to 3.x versions. In the source code side it was a spaghetti, but it was possible to configure UI quite well. One thing which I considered a mystery was the proper parameter string to dcop to make DE do what I wanted.
        In 4.x, they decided to dump most of customizability, and what is more important, configurations from one version does not work i another - like in MATE Desktop when they switched to GTK3. Finally, they made this tablet file manager as the primary one and to make users not go back to the previous one (as I said, hellish spaghetti code with HTML rendering engine in it, but works and can be well customized) they removed the sidebar. Because everyone has 256GB of RAM to make these >60K images fit their thumbnails in!
        So currently you have a choice: Use outdated, but quite fast DE, use a "customizable" DE in which you customize it from source code or use modern DE without customization.
        And all their pushing the problem to someone else. Global keybindings? "That's server's job" - DE devs say. Meanwhile in Wayland... it must be done by the desktop engine or it will not work.

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by khallow on Sunday January 09, @06:15PM (1 child)

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday January 09, @06:15PM (#1211277) Journal
      Customization doesn't solve it unless enough people do it. Defaults are powerful because a lot of people don't change defaults.

      I still remember a manipulation of Eve Online (internet spaceships game with heavy hypercapitalism role play) contracts where the default behavior of contracts being sorted by time issued was exploited. The manipulator (a group) would drop like 100 overpriced contracts for popular items (like fancy guns and armor) that noobs would buy and flood the "sorted by time" viewpoint with their contracts. Every time someone put in a contract that was cheaper,they would either buy the contract or reflood with 100 more such contracts.

      End result is that noobs were buying items for roughly double market price since they never saw the cheaper items. Meanwhile, the veteran players sorted by best price and never saw the manipulation.

      Shortly after the manipulation was revealed, the Eve Online developers changed the default contract view so that it showed best price by default. One of the few cases where manipulation was so successful that it changed the game.
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Azuma Hazuki on Tuesday January 11, @03:47AM

        by Azuma Hazuki (5086) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11, @03:47AM (#1211691) Journal

        I definitely agree there should be sane defaults, but we've seen the complete pizdec the Gnome team made of that idea. That said, out of the box, most DE's defaults are crap.

        The LXQt desktop enviroment is a F/OSS project I've contributed to, in the form of a couple of official themes as of v0.16, Clearlooks and Leech. On the discussion boards, you can find me pointing out that the default experience is crap and attaching a screenshot of my daily driver setup, which looks like nothing so much as pre-GTK3 Xubuntu did. I make the point that this design lasted so long because it was functional and made logical sense, and was less than subtly hinting that this basic layout ought to be the default when someone installs LXQt fresh...especially because the default layout is somewhere between "hostile" and "outright unusable."

        --
        I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
    • (Score: 3, Touché) by FatPhil on Sunday January 09, @11:44PM

      by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Sunday January 09, @11:44PM (#1211346) Homepage
      > GUIs must look "appealing"

      The word they use is "compelling". You'll never win buzzword bingo if you don't use the right terms.
      --
      I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
    • (Score: 2) by Magic Oddball on Monday January 10, @02:16AM (1 child)

      by Magic Oddball (3847) on Monday January 10, @02:16AM (#1211380) Journal

      And that's why customizability matters. The thing that cannot be configured by the user will be exploited against the user. … Tried with the newest KDE, and their new file manager considered that it will be beautiful to display all folders full of images with live-generated thumbnails. Even this folder with >60K PNGs with microphotography results, 10MB each.
      So after I killed the file manager as it used up a whole RAM, swap and temporary space for thumbnails, I returned to KDE3 fork.

      That has nothing to do with the extent of customizability, as you could easily have solved the problem in a couple of clicks by either:

      a) Turning off the "Show Previews" option in the View menu.

      or

      b) Opening the Dolphin Preferences dialog box, clicking the 'Previews' tab, and unchecking 'images' from the list.

      or

      c) On the same tab, setting "skip previews for local files above:" to whatever small number floats your boat.

      A GUI can have preferences up the wazoo, but it doesn't do any good if the user can't be bothered to even look in the menus or settings dialog box for them.

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 11, @05:51PM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11, @05:51PM (#1211831) Journal
        Looks like AC resolved that matter with d) a couple of clicks and a return to KDE3 fork.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Barenflimski on Sunday January 09, @05:50AM (1 child)

    by Barenflimski (6836) on Sunday January 09, @05:50AM (#1211203)

    I thought I liked Apple for being Apple. Now I feel finagled. Market forces make me feel so dirty.

    • (Score: 5, Funny) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Sunday January 09, @07:03AM

      by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Sunday January 09, @07:03AM (#1211208)

      Market forces make me feel so dirty

      Yeah but they're great for culture: if you ever wanted to brush up on philosophy and read Jean-Paul Sartre, just use any Google- or Apple-powered product instead and you'll get both both nausea [wikipedia.org] and dirty hands [wikipedia.org]. Talk about a timesaver!

  • (Score: 0, Spam) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @07:47AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @07:47AM (#1211213)

    I peck the ground like a hound with a beak
    Through barrels of scotch I leak

    SNEED AND FEED

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @05:47PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @05:47PM (#1211272)

      Finally, spam I can upmod.

  • (Score: 0, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @10:06AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @10:06AM (#1211224)

    ' The people without an iPhone don't see the different colour bubbles. So how are they being "nudged" to switch? And the people with an iPhone, they already have an iPhone, so there's no need to "nudge" them to switch.

    But all you Android users got "nudged" to read a bullshit article. "Nudge theory" is mostly bullshit - the latest politicians buzzword. "We're going to nudge people into getting vaxxed." Well, that didn't work. Fines work. Fear of death works. Nudging? People can sense they're being manipulated, and the reaction is usually to go "fuck you, asshole."

    No android user is going to switch because their texts might be another colour on someone else's phone. This article ranks right up tgere with "blue light before bedtime interferes with sleep," which never caused anyone to go "gee, I can't take a siesta in the middle of the day. Dark mode is bullshit.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @04:27PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @04:27PM (#1211256)

      I suspect the article author's definition of "nudge" here is:

      Teenage IPhone user see's harder to read texts from her Android using BFF's, and starts wailing on Twitch about how terrible it is to read all those "awful looking" texts from Android users.

      Her Android using BFF's, wanting to avoid the shame of being labeled a lowly "Android user" who sends "ugly text messages" all run to their parents and ask: "please please please buy me an IPhone!!!!".

  • (Score: 2) by Farmer Tim on Sunday January 09, @11:11AM (5 children)

    by Farmer Tim (6490) on Sunday January 09, @11:11AM (#1211226)
    On checking I notice iMessage colour codes sent messages according to carrier, but received messages are black on white (or white on black in dark mode). The active text entry area is also black and white so I can see what I’m typing clearly, I usually have a pretty good idea of what’s in a message I’ve sent so a minor difference in legibility is irrelevant, and there’s no indication from the reply what kind of device the other person is using. The difference can be explained by the fact that I’m looking at iOS 15, and the article refers to iOS 5-14. So problem fixed for 60% of iOS users so far, even if that part was omitted from this article. And FWIW the historical difference in colour hasn’t made me hate Android, I honestly DGAF what anyone else uses (unless theye. Maybe I lack the requisite OCD.
    --
    Came for the news, stayed for the soap opera.
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Farmer Tim on Sunday January 09, @11:13AM

      by Farmer Tim (6490) on Sunday January 09, @11:13AM (#1211227)
      I clearly lack the OCD to avoid pressing the Submit button accidentally before closing a parentheses and adding line breaks. For anyone interested, the rest of that should’ve been “unless they’re being a boor about it)”.
      --
      Came for the news, stayed for the soap opera.
    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Sunday January 09, @01:26PM (3 children)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday January 09, @01:26PM (#1211234)

      Maybe the color issue has been fixed in iOS 15, the very fact of 15 OS revisions breaking backwards compatibility to some degree each time since 2006 is horrendous in it's own right, not that Android is much better.

      On the Android side, my wife has complained for years about significant increased difficulty communicating with iOS users by text, not just contrast but messages not getting through or getting filed in weird places. I'm sure it's a "you're holding it wrong" type of issue, but it doesn't happen with messages to/from her Android using friends. I don't have those issues, but then I send and receive about 3% as many texts as she does.

      --
      Україна не входить до складу Росії.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @01:54PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @01:54PM (#1211240)

        A lot of the issues have to do with st. Steve flipping out when he got his cancer diagnosis and nobody really knowing how to continue what he started.

        • (Score: 2) by kazzie on Sunday January 09, @09:53PM

          by kazzie (5309) Subscriber Badge on Sunday January 09, @09:53PM (#1211325)

          And yet: with all that flipping out, Apple have yet to release a flip-phone.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @03:23PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @03:23PM (#1211251)
        The appearance is the exact same between the iPhone 6 (whatever version that was) and IOS 15. What's probably changed is your system font settings. Bigger screen, smaller font just isn't as legible.
  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by crafoo on Sunday January 09, @01:26PM (3 children)

    by crafoo (6639) on Sunday January 09, @01:26PM (#1211235)

    The spectrum is a shared resource which we grant cell phone companies and carriers to operate on, make a profit, and provide the public with useful products and services. I propose that we consider requiring all hardware and software operating on the public spectrum to be open source and fully documented. We should retain some control over our resources and demand more from companies we allow to exploit them on our behalf.

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @03:10PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @03:10PM (#1211249)
      Fuck no. Just look at all the fucked up UIs with linux. Every distro screws up something else to try to be different, because really that's all most distros CAN tweak. It's not like they're going to develop new programs. Because no money for real development.

      So everyone packages the same shit, sometimes tweaking it to make it just enough different to piss people off.

      • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Sunday January 09, @11:51PM

        by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Sunday January 09, @11:51PM (#1211349) Homepage
        So your argument that interfaces shouldn't be open source and thus tweakable by the user is that there are interfaces that are terrible? You didn't think enough about that, did you?
        --
        I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
      • (Score: 2) by Magic Oddball on Monday January 10, @02:44AM

        by Magic Oddball (3847) on Monday January 10, @02:44AM (#1211388) Journal

        Just look at all the fucked up UIs with linux. Every distro screws up something else to try to be different, because really that's all most distros CAN tweak.

        Such as? As long as you use one of the major existing graphical environments or window managers (GNOME, KDE, Xfce, etc.) the default experience is pretty much the same regardless of which distro it's run under; there have been a small handful of distros that created their own custom graphical environment, but that's a different issue far beyond "tweaking" an existing one.

  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @02:02PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @02:02PM (#1211242)

    Buy a $19.99 Apple (TM) iPhone (TM) Screen Cleaning iCloth (TM)... it will keep the green-filtering smudges off your screen.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by pTamok on Sunday January 09, @02:55PM (3 children)

    by pTamok (3042) on Sunday January 09, @02:55PM (#1211247)

    The whole iMessage 'experience' is messed up. Try writing a message and specifying that it is to be delivered as an SMS. You can't. There are many people who cannot receive messages from people with iPhones because the Apple software is deciding to try iMessage first, and doesn't always fall back to SMS.

    SMS messages are standardised across all phone operating systems, even on the cheapest of 'soap bar' phones. The exception is Apple. It's fine that Apple wants to promote iMessage within the Apple ecosystem, but iMessage intentionally breaks compatibility with SMS message delivery. It is lousy.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @04:36PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @04:36PM (#1211257)

      Doesn't Android have its own non-SMS/MMS data-connection messaging too?

    • (Score: 2) by pipedwho on Monday January 10, @07:03AM (1 child)

      by pipedwho (2032) on Monday January 10, @07:03AM (#1211446)

      iMessage works over an internet connection, which is distinct to SMS.

      When you send a message on an iPhone, it asks the Apple cloud servers to deliver it first, but the cloud server will only do this if the other phone is registered as an iPhone. The default fall back if it can't be delivered by iMessage/internet/cloud is to fall back to SMS.

      Sometimes a user doesn't deregister their iPhone on a number, and it can a week or two for the system to drop the number from their system. If a new iPhone comes online with the old number, the message can't be delivered as the crypto/account won't match. That can prevent an message going through to a new phone until the server resyncs and unlists the number.

      • (Score: 1) by pTamok on Monday January 10, @07:34AM

        by pTamok (3042) on Monday January 10, @07:34AM (#1211453)

        You are relaying and summarising how Apple say it should work: but the experience of many people is that even deregistering a phone number doesn't result in things working after the waiting period. Just do an Internet search for people's frustrating experiences with this, especially when group messaging is involved.

        Furthermore, iPhone users do not have the option of specifying that they want to send an SMS rather than trusting the iMessage 'service' to fall back correctly. Apple have removed that choice.

        As a non-iPhone user, I can send an SMS to anyone, Apple's ecosystem included. As an Apple user, I do not have that choice, and sometimes, due to iMessage's failures, I am prevented from sending a message to particular non-iPhone users indefinitely. It does not 'Just Work'.

  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @08:33PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, @08:33PM (#1211311)

    This isn't the only pro-Apple design cue. I have a Linux server that serves SMB network shares so they can be mounted by other systems on my network, including Windows and Mac. I've noticed that on the Mac, the icon for those shares is a computer that clearly shows a Blue Screen of Death. It's very tiny, but if you look closely, it's unmistakable. I got a kick out of it, as I'm no big fan of either Windows or Mac, but yeah, definitely a subtle psychological game.

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